Next generation smartphone navigation is to be developed by Augmentra, the team behind ViewRanger, as part of a new European collaborative project known as DOSSy (Digital Outdoors and Safety System). The project aims to help facilitate enjoyment of mountain pursuits regardless of age by developing an app that includes intelligent navigation, location and context triggered safety features.
Silver hikers to benefit from intelligent navigation app
Craig Wareham, co-founder of Cambridge-based Augmentra explains: “The DOSSy project is a step change in mobile navigation, it will enable information about the terrain, weather and fitness of the individual to help guide the user. This offers the potential to reduce the risks involved in outdoor activities.
“Many apps provide simple positioning; they basically locate you on a map. Our ViewRanger GPS app is more advanced in that it provides active navigation. It uses predetermined waypoints to direct the users on the right course, with alerts if you go off track. DOSSy will offer next generation intelligent navigation, using information about the evolving situation to pre-empt issues and advise both the user and the rescue services as appropriate.”
Conditions change rapidly in the mountains and 90 per cent of incidents occur during foul weather or after night fall. The less fit and elderly are particularly vulnerable to falls or becoming disorientated. The new app would use predictive information to provide an alert if the walker or skier failed to reach the next way point.
Craig explains the app will interface with a wealth of context information.
“You can’t prevent the weather, but it can now be predicted with greater accuracy. For example, it would be possible to inform the user that wind conditions on the summit have worsened and that it would be advisable to take a lower route. Likewise information about heart rate can be captured by biosensors and this type of fitness information could also be accessed.
The DOSSy consortium includes the German Red Cross and the Swiss Alpine Club to provide expert input.
Kevin Knowles, of the Kendal Mountain Rescue Team, has been using ViewRanger for operations over the last four years and believes mobile navigation has an important role in mountain safety.
“A typical scenario would be the call out last Sunday. I was out with the family when the pager went off I was asked to go direct to the RV point (rendezvous). While travelling I got the grid reference, I set this in ViewRanger as a POI (point of interest) and could look at the area around for access and then use ViewRanger to navigate from there to the RV point.
“Mobile navigation enhances and supports more traditional methods, particularly when you are working out of your own area. With ViewRanger I have all the maps I need already on the phone and use GPS for navigation.
Kevin sees one benefit of DOSSy as allowing the type of information currently only available via laptop in the control vehicle to be available to teams on the ground. “It would allow you to see the complete picture of the operation not just your little piece of the jigsaw as you can now,” he says.
DOSSy will also provide a new dimension for rescue teams as it will allow much richer information to be accessed about the lost or injured person.
The DOSSy project is not just about safety, enjoyment is also a major feature. Bergverlag Rother, publishers of Alpine Club guidebooks is also part of the consortium and its excellent content will be available to enhance the experience.
Craig explains that features already available in ViewRanger, such as adding photographs and tweets tagged to the route will be enhanced within the DOSSy application to improve the usability for older people. This will enable them to share experiences with family and friends.
“The community aspect is important. Having routes recommended to you increases confidence when exploring the outdoors. Many people aspire to have a ‘gap year’ when they retire to do the things they have only dreamt about. The developments we are planning will hopefully make this more accessible,” he said.
About DOSSy (Digital Outdoors and Safety System)
DOSSy is coordinated by the University of St Gallen in Switzerland and includes Augmentra, developers of ViewRanger the leading outdoor activities GPS app, Curena developers of an emergency response system, Bergverlag Rother, publishers of Alpine Club guidebooks, the German Red Cross and the Swiss Alpine Club. It is part of the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme (AALJP), a European Commission activity aimed at enhancing the quality of life of older people and stimulating commerce.
DOSSy is a 24-month project with a budget of 1.6M Euro; there is European funding of 734.000 Euro and each of the consortium members are funded by the relevant national funding body. For Cambridge UK based ViewRanger this is the Technology Strategy Board.
Members of DOSSy consortia
University of St. Gallen, http://www.iwi.unisg.ch
University of Applied Sciences, St. Gallen University, http://www.fhsg.ch
Curena AG, http://www.curena.ch
Augmentra Ltd, http://www.viewranger.com
Bergverlag Rother GmbH, http://www.rother.de
German Red Cross Herten, http://www.drk-herten.de
Schweizer Alpen Club (SAC), http://www.sac-cas.ch
About The Consortia Members
The University of St. Gallen (HSG) is one of the top-ranked European Business Schools. Research at the University of St. Gallen is centred on more than 30 institutes and research groups. HSG’s strong track record in application-oriented research is underpinned by more than 100 successful spin-offs and by several executive education programmes. The Competence Center Independent Living, a research group within the IWI-HSG, specifically deals with business models to support older persons’ quality of life. http://www.iwi.unisg.ch
The University of Applied Science St. Gallen, Innovation Centre (FHS-IZSG) consistently focuses on providing solutions to future issues of regional and national relevance. The innovation centre at FHS St. Gallen assists companies with regard to the initiation and evaluation of new ideas and innovations, and their realisation as market-ready products. http://www.fhsg.ch
Curena is an emergency call and service centre mainly aiming at the needs of elder people. Serving more than 7'000 customers with Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS; fixed net and mobile) Curena understands the needs of older people in emergency situations as well as the appropriate technology and business processes. Curena is a subsidiary of the Swiss Red Cross (SRC), Zurich. http://www.curena.ch
Augmentra Ltd is the Cambridge, UK, app developer behind leading navigation app “ViewRanger GPS” – and has substantial experience delivering popular and well respected location-based apps across multiple mobile-OS platforms. Their apps are used and trusted by a wide demographic including outdoor enthusiasts, leisure tourists, and professionals including mountain rescue teams. Augmentra works as a licensed partner of national mapping agencies across Europe, and with more than 400 trail guide publishing partners and tourist development organizations. http://www.viewranger.com
Bergverlag Rother GmbH Founded in 1920, Bergverlag Rother is one of the oldest and one of the leading publishers of alpine literature in Europe with currently over 600 books in print. Today Bergverlag Rother is a subsidiary company of the renowned cartographic publisher Freytag & Berndt of Vienna, Austria. Located in the South of Munich, Germany, Bergverlag Rother is known and valued for its expert mountaineering literature and hiking guides. http://www.rother.de
The DRK (German Red Cross Herten) is involved in rescue coordination, senior residences and social work. The DRK is well-connected with other DRK divisions all over the world and runs one of the largest DRK call centres for mobile and in-house emergency calls. http://www.drk-herten.de
The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) brings together about 130’000 members interested in the mountains regardless of their age, gender, religion, language or background. Founded in 1863, the SAC has been a dynamic force in developing the Alpine region and climbing. It operates approximately 150 huts all over the mountains in Switzerland. Based on this tradition, the organisation is an advocate of responsible mountain sports and extensive access to mountain areas. http://www.sac-cas.ch
Outdooractive is the world’s leading digital platform for outdoor adventure, a virtual home for all outdoor enthusiasts. With our solutions we support people in living an active lifestyle. We encourage them to explore the great outdoors and inspire moments of connection in nature. In late 2019, Outdooractive acquired Cambridge-based ViewRanger, who had built a profitable business delivering an outdoor navigation app to a worldwide community of active consumers.